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O-0104/2008 (B6-0480/2008)

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L-Erbgħa, 19 ta' Novembru 2008 - Strasburgu Edizzjoni riveduta

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  La Présidente. - L'ordre du jour appelle le débat sur la question orale à la Commission sur la situation apicole de Neil Parish, au nom de la commission de l'agriculture et du développement rural (O-0104/2008 - B6-0480/2008).


  Neil Parish, rapporteur. − Madam President, I would first of all like to thank Astrid Lulling very much because it is very much on her initiative that we are presenting this. As Chair, I will be presenting the report here tonight because we are extremely concerned about the situation regarding bees. What is happening to bees is very important to Europe – to the world, in fact.

For the last two years running a third of honey bees in the USA have mysteriously died. In 2007 some 800 000 colonies were wiped out. In Croatia, five million bees disappeared in less than 48 hours. In the UK one in five honey bee hives is falling, and around the world commercial beekeepers are reporting losses of up to 90% since 2006.

What is happening and just how serious is it for us and the future of mankind? Albert Einstein predicted that man would only have four years of life left if the bees disappeared from the Earth, so we need to take this very seriously. If you look at honey bees, they are responsible for pollinating plants and flowers which provide about a third of all the food we eat. They are nature’s top dog when it comes to pollination and without them we can say goodbye to soya beans, onions, carrots, broccoli, apples, oranges, avocados, peaches and many other foods. There would be no more strawberries. You can imagine how Wimbledon would not be able to survive without strawberries! We would not have lucerne, which is used in cattle feed. We are therefore absolutely dependent on the honey bee. Of course they also pollinate cotton so we would not have any clothes either. We really do have to take this matter very seriously.

In China, for instance, there are virtually no honey bees in some regions and they are having to pollinate a lot of crops by hand. The 90 commercial crops grown worldwide which rely on pollination generate around GBP 30 billion a year. Bees contribute over GBP 100 million a year to the UK economy and around EUR 400 million to the European economy, so you can see quite clearly that there is a huge problem.

Therefore I would ask the Commission – and if possible I want to be able to hand over some of my time to add to Astrid Lulling’s because she was very much the driving force behind this – whether it can draw together more money for research. Having talked to the professional beekeepers and others, we know there is some mystery as to why bees are dying, partly because their condition has been very poor in the last few years and they seem to be dying literally like flies. Also there is a problem with having the right chemicals in place to cure the diseases of bees.

I think as a Commission you need not only to make money available for research but also to draw together what all the Member States are doing. It is essential that we act now. We cannot wait until all the bees have died out because the problem will be incredibly serious.


  Janez Potočnik, Member of the Commission. − Madam President, thank you to Mr Parish and of course also to Ms Lulling for this oral question and resolution on the EU beekeeping sector. The Commission clearly recognises the importance that bees play in the EU’s ecology and its ecosystem. The Commission is also aware of the reports made in several Member States concerning significant losses in bee colonies.

Let me go straight to your specific questions – there were quite some of them – and try to point out straightforwardly what the Commission is already doing in this sector.

As regards bee mortality and research, in February this year the Commission requested that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) study the mortality in bees and its causes in the European Union. EFSA collected information from Member States and now intends to analyse it in order to provide the Commission with a clearer picture of the epidemiological situation of bee colony collapse, and this would provide the basis for further action in this area. Besides this EFSA action, the Commission is and will be supporting a number of research projects relating to honeybees in its Research Framework programme. If you are interested I can mention some of them later on.

Concerning ecological pollen zones, despite the fact that it seems difficult to set up zones as such, I would like to remind you that financial support is already granted for the efficiency of moving of beehives. This measure, which is provided for by Council Regulation No 1234/2007, is intended to assist the management of the movement of hives in the Community and provide locations where high concentrations of beekeepers can gather during the flowering season. This measure may also include enrichment of apicultural flora in certain areas.

Concerning your third question, I would like to remind you that the placing on the market and authorisation of plant protection products is regulated by Council Directive 91/414/EEC. This Directive provides that pesticides may only be used if it has been demonstrated that they pose no significant risk of unacceptable effects to human and animal health, and the environment. Therefore, this assessment also covers the acute and long-term risks to honey bees and their larvae and the tests applied are based on standards developed by intergovernmental organisations such as, for example, the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organisation, in which 47 governments collaborate.

It is important to note that the Community legislation is risk based. It is evident that insecticides are, by their nature, toxic to bees. However, their use may still be possible if exposure does not occur or is minimised to levels which do not generate harmful effects.

Classic examples of such risk mitigation measures are: well adapted agronomic practices, appropriate rates and timing of the applications (for example in the evening after honeybee flight, or outside the flowering period of the crop and possibly other adjacent weeds), direct incorporation of the product in soil, uses in glasshouse inaccessible to bees or treatment of seeds in specialised facilities.

As regards the quality of the surface waters, the Water Framework Directive has established protection of all waters; an obligation to achieve/maintain good water quality for all surface waters and groundwaters, by 2015; plus a prohibition of deterioration of water status; an obligation to establish a monitoring system; an obligation to develop the necessary plans and programmes by December 2009, in broad public consultation with local municipalities, stakeholders and non-governmental organisations.

Concerning support to apiaries in difficulty, I would like to tell you that the Commission is glad to see that the number of hives increased between 2004 and 2007 – and this not counting enlargement.

Regarding losses of bees, you should know that, since 2004, a new measure on restocking of hives has been added to the list of eligible measures in the national beekeeping programmes. Therefore it is now possible to compensate for losses of bees (and production) by funding activities to promote queen production, purchasing of bee colonies, or even purchases of hives.

I think that the question which you are raising is of course extremely serious and we have to take it with similar seriousness.


  Astrid Lulling, au nom du groupe PPE-DE. – Madame la Présidente, quand il y a péril en la demeure, je peux compter sur toute la commission de l'agriculture et du développement rural et sur son président, mon cher collègue Parish. Je les remercie d'avoir si vite et si efficacement réagi à mon initiative d'une question orale avec débat et résolution à la Commission européenne pour réagir face à la crise sanitaire apicole.

Dans un contexte d'affaiblissement et de surmortalité des colonies d'abeilles, il s'avère indispensable d'analyser tous les facteurs responsables de cette mortalité accrue des abeilles et de proposer un plan d'action afin de remédier à cette tendance désastreuse.

La Commission vient de nous lire un long papier sur tout ce qu'elle a déjà fait, mais je dois dire que ces dernières années, depuis que je suis rapporteure sur la situation de l'apiculture – depuis 1994 –, elle se fait trop tirer les oreilles pour agir lorsque je m'acharne avec mes collègues à attirer son attention sur cette situation alarmante, amplement connue et parfaitement décrite, notamment par mon collègue Parish.

Je n'ai donc pas le temps de répéter tout cela ou d'ajouter quoi que ce soit, mais comme personne n'ose plus nier que la mortalité des abeilles est un danger mortel pour notre production de fruits et légumes, qui dépend de la pollinisation, nous exigeons que la Commission agisse avec plus de persistance et plus de moyens. Elle doit contribuer à l'analyse des raisons de cette mortalité des abeilles et intégrer, enfin, la recherche et la lutte contre les maladies apicoles dans la politique vétérinaire européenne.

Elle doit promouvoir les mesures nécessaires pour limiter et pour éliminer les risques d'une pollinisation déficiente et assurer une production suffisante et diversifiée d'aliments pour les besoins humains et animaliers. Il faut qu'elle comprenne que la crise sanitaire apicole est aussi dangereuse pour la survie humaine que la crise financière l'est pour l'économie réelle.

Je ne mentionnerai pas les chiffres, sauf un seul à l'échelle mondiale: la valeur de l'activité pollinisatrice des cultures dont l'homme se nourrit est estimée à 153 milliards d'euros. Les solutions que nous préconisons sont beaucoup moins onéreuses que celles que l'on a mobilisées pour la crise financière et, même si l'on instaurait enfin la prime à la pollinisation et des aides financières pour les apiculteurs en difficulté afin d'assurer la survie des abeilles en Europe, ce serait des peanuts par rapport à d'autres lignes budgétaires. Si vous avez un milliard à envoyer en Afrique sans aucun contrôle – ce que vous voulez faire – pour lutter contre la faim, avec toutes les conséquences désastreuses que cela entraînerait, alors vous devriez pouvoir trouver quelque 60 millions d'euros pour, effectivement, faire quelque chose de sérieux ici.

Madame la Présidente, est-ce que, parce que je suis la rapporteure en pratique, je peux encore dire quelque chose sur les amendements? Je n'ai pas épuisé le temps de parole de M. Parish...

(La présidente retire la parole à l'oratrice)


  Rosa Miguélez Ramos, en nombre del Grupo PSE. – Señora Presidenta, yo quisiera agradecerle a la señora Lulling el empeño que siempre ha puesto para que este asunto, que a algunos pudiera parecerles menor, esté presente en los debates de este Parlamento, aunque sea en horas de madrugada.

La apicultura es una actividad ganadera con importantes repercusiones económicas y efectos beneficiosos en el desarrollo rural y en el equilibrio ecológico.

En mi país, la apicultura ocupa a cerca de 27 000 productores, que manejan más de 2 300 000 colmenas y la sitúan como primer productor de miel de la Unión Europea.

Los apicultores españoles se enfrentan, como todos los demás, a dificultades derivadas no sólo de la disminución del polen y el néctar, sino también de la aparición de nuevas plagas que están diezmando las colmenas. La Comisión tendría que estar trabajando ya en una línea de investigación sobre el origen de estas enfermedades y, en este sentido, un esfuerzo presupuestario nos parece imprescindible.

Pero quisiera añadir que las importaciones −me refiero a las importaciones de miel− deben cumplir los mismos requisitos que nuestras producciones y ofrecer total garantía a los consumidores. En este sentido, es fundamental un buen etiquetado de nuestros productos y la Comisión tiene ahí un importante trabajo que hacer.

Hay que mantener un nivel elevado, tanto en frecuencia como en número de controles en los puestos de inspección fronterizos, para garantizar que no entren en la Unión Europea productos apícolas de terceros países con residuos.

La apicultura es para muchos de nuestros agricultores un complemento a unas rentas casi siempre escasas. Es además un trabajo que ocupa a mucha mano de obra femenina. La miel ocupa un lugar destacado en las pequeñas ferias y mercados y los y las apicultoras han realizado un importante esfuerzo de diversificación de sus productos, de etiquetado, de mayor higiene y garantías sanitarias, de apertura de nuevos canales de distribución.

No podemos, sencillamente, señor Comisario, dejar que todo este esfuerzo se pierda.


  Francesco Ferrari, a nome del gruppo ALDE. – Signora Presidente, signor Commissario, onorevoli colleghi, il settore apistico non solo è un'attività produttiva con origini millenarie nella storia della nostra attività agricola, ma rappresenta attualmente uno dei sistemi indispensabili per mantenere il livello di produttività delle colture arboree e erbacee, grazie all'impollinazione incrociata.

Ricordo che l'80% delle piante coltivate fruttificano grazie all'opera di bottinaggio nelle api, assicurando inoltre una variabilità genetica delle specie in riproduzione. Allo stato attuale è evidente che il settore apistico e la sua attività risultano insostituibili e rappresentano l'unica soluzione per il mantenimento al traguardo della biodiversità. I prodotti delle arnie devono sempre più spesso confrontarsi sul mercato globale in condizioni di concorrenza poco trasparente e per la massiccia importazione di produzione anche extracomunitaria non garantita, di cui non è sempre possibile garantire la qualità, anche attraverso pesticidi che in Europa sono proibiti e là li adoperano. Per questo è necessario provvedere all'etichettatura e alla menzione dell'origine del prodotto.

Ritengo inoltre importante evidenziare le pesanti conseguenze dell'attività apistica a causa della varraosi a seguito della quale oltre il 50% del patrimonio apistico europeo è stato decimato. Sollecito la Commissione europea ad intraprendere ulteriori sforzi nell'ambito della ricerca scientifica per porre rimedio a questa grave patologia, vietando qualunque tipo di trattamento fitosanitario durante il periodo di fioritura.


  Zdzisław Zbigniew Podkański, w imieniu grupy UEN. – Pani Przewodnicząca! Panie Komisarzu! Bogactwo przyrody kurczy się na naszych oczach. Wymierają kolejne gatunki dziesiątkowane przez pasożyty, choroby, chemię i nieodpowiedzialną działalność człowieka. W wielu regionach dochodzi do zachwiania równowagi biologicznej i poważnych, nieodwracalnych strat.

Dziś z niepokojem patrzymy na masowe wymieranie pszczół, cichną kolejne pasieki, a wraz z nimi wymierają liczne gatunki roślin zależnych od zapylania. Od kondycji pszczelarstwa zależą plony aż 84% gatunków roślin uprawianych w Europie. Pszczoły więc decydują w dużej mierze o bogactwie naszych stołów.

Pszczoły dziesiątkują dziś choroby i szkodniki, z którymi sami pszczelarze sobie nie poradzą. Potrzebne są dodatkowe środki na ich zwalczanie i badania. Pszczelarze sami nie poradzą sobie także z obroną rynku i opłacalnością produkcji. Konieczna jest więc ochrona naszego rynku wewnętrznego przed napływem gorszego gatunkowo miodu i często z naruszeniem warunków sanitarnych z krajów trzecich. Pszczelarze powinni otrzymać także pomoc w formie dopłat czy tańszego cukru, jak również szeroko zakrojonej promocji.

Sumując, nadszedł najwyższy czas, byśmy my także zaczęli pracować jak pszczoły. Jako pszczelarz chcę powiedzieć, że życzyłbym sobie, żeby wzór z pszczół wzięła również Komisja Europejska i żeby nie czekać piętnaście lat na jakiś kolejny sensowny program, o który pani Lulling już tyle zabiega.


  Alyn Smith, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Madam President, I would also pay tribute to Mme Lulling, who has been tenacious to say the least in promoting and bringing this issue to the floor of the Parliament. Commissioner, I would also thank you for an impressive list of activities that the Commission is undertaking into this grave issue and, if anything, I think we are looking for a greater degree of funding and coordination as well. There is a risk that different bits of the institutions are doing a lot of good work but we do not necessarily tie it together. I think that is where this debate can shed some light.

It is a serious issue. The miners of old took canaries down into the mines with them to warn of poisonous gases. They warned of poisonous gases by dying. That was bad news for the canaries but good news for the miners. Our concern is that the bees of Europe are doing essentially the same sort of service for us. A third of the EU’s food – one in three mouthfuls of food – can be linked to bee pollination.

There is a catastrophic decline in bees, and we must take action at European level. Scientists are agreed that there has been a decline. We have heard already how severe it has been, but we are less clear as to what has caused it. Is it the use of pesticides? Is it climatic conditions? Is it parasites and mites and other diseases, perhaps beyond our control?

Commissioner, I would also mention to you specifically the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at Stirling University in Scotland which has done groundbreaking work into this. Europe is not short of expertise. What we need to do is to tie it together. I think the text before us has a number of concrete actions which would take us in that direction – particularly apicultural set-aside, biodiversity zones, even alongside roads and unproductive land, research on pesticides, surface water and considering of aid.

As we have heard already, if we can find a billion euros to inflict on African development, I think we can find money to fund our own research. It is right that we see EU action on this and – dare I say – this does constitute a pretty coherent plan B, where plan A, the common European agricultural policy, has failed Europe’s bees. I do think we need to see a greater complementarity of actions already ongoing to alleviate that situation.


  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE-DE). - Pani Przewodnicząca! Pszczelarze i pszczoły przeżywają obecnie ogromne problemy i potrzebują pomocy. Obserwujemy drastyczny spadek liczby rodzin pszczelich nie tylko w Europie, ale na całym świecie. Niestety spada także dochodowość oraz zainteresowanie młodych ludzi tym zawodem. Jest kilka kwestii, które powinny być rozwiązane w najbliższym czasie.

Po pierwsze istnieje potrzeba rozwoju badań przeciw pasożytom, chorobom i wirusom, które dziesiątkują te pracowite owady. Po drugie należy wprowadzić obowiązek badania miodów importowanych z państw trzecich. Wszystkie produkty muszą spełniać odpowiednie wymogi jakościowe. Ponadto na etykiecie powinna znajdować się informacja dotycząca miejsca pochodzenia danego miodu. Po trzecie należy przygotować kampanię informacyjną na temat dobroczynnego wpływu pszczół na środowisko naturalne oraz miodu i innych produktów pszczelarskich na zdrowie człowieka.

W związku ze skalą problemu należy rozważyć wsparcie finansowe hodowli zagrożonych wymarciem. Środowisko pszczelarskie postuluje o możliwość zakupu tańszego cukru, który mógłby być przeznaczony na tzw. paszę dla pszczół. Warto zastanowić się nad wprowadzeniem specjalnego systemu wsparcia dla sektora pszczelarskiego ze względu na jego niezmiernie korzystne oddziaływanie na przyrodę.


  Janusz Wojciechowski (UEN). - Pani Przewodnicząca! Chciałem pogratulować i podziękować pani Lulling za jej nieustanną i tak żarliwą troskę o interesy pszczelarstwa europejskiego. Bardzo dobrze, że o tym dyskutujemy, bo pszczelarze w Europie i w ogóle na świecie są zaniepokojeni i zmartwieni wymieraniem pszczół.

Trwają dociekania, jaka jest tego przyczyna. Jedną z branych pod uwagę przyczyn sygnalizowanych przez naukowców jest możliwy wpływ biotechnologii, a konkretnie upraw roślin genetycznie modyfikowanych, które mogą mieć negatywny wpływ na funkcjonowanie pszczół.

Chciałbym w związku z tym skierować pytanie do Komisji Europejskiej, która decyduje o dopuszczaniu kolejnych upraw genetycznie modyfikowanych w Unii Europejskiej. Jakie są wyniki badań i jakie jest w ogóle rozpoznanie problemu wpływu GMO na kondycję pszczół w Europie?


  James Nicholson (PPE-DE). - Madam President, let me first of all begin by congratulating Astrid for her work on this issue. As far as I am aware she has been talking about bees now for quite a long time so I am glad to see that this resolution put forward by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has given Parliament a chance to debate the problem currently facing the beekeeping sector.

While this issue has attracted a lot of attention and publicity, possibly because it is somewhat of a novelty item, we are well aware that in reality the problems which we are facing are very serious and could potentially have devastating consequences.

I am sure that I do not need to remind anyone of the importance of bees – and it has already been pointed out here tonight – not only for the production of important by-products such as wax and honey, but also for the role they play in pollination and the maintenance of healthy ecosystems.

Coming as I do from the county of Armagh in Northern Ireland, which was well known within the island as the Orchard County, where bees are very necessary to pollinate the apples, and I can say that it is already telling a tale in that particular area. In this regard, the Commission urgently needs to step up its research on what exactly is causing such a sharp decline in the bee population and hopefully come forward with some solutions. The situation will only deteriorate if we cannot find a way to improve bee health and reduce bee mortality and stop the colonies of bees dying and disappearing. This is a source of great concern to all involved, not only within the whole of Europe but even in the United States and beyond.

I recently addressed a beekeepers’ conference in my region of Northern Ireland and it reaffirmed to me, as I listened to the many contributions during that morning, the concern that the beekeepers have at the loss of their hives, especially during the winter period. We need extra funds to develop through further R&D in an attempt to assess what is the reason for this calamity hitting the beekeepers. If we are doing something wrong, we need to find it out urgently. Is it pesticides, or some other reason? There may be lots of theories and such speculation, but the truth is we do not have the answer, and we need that and to be given the extra support.


  Mairead McGuinness (PPE-DE). - Madam President, we know the importance of bees. Everyone has spoken about it. However, one of the issues that has not been addressed in the debate is the reality of a substantial trade in commercial bumblebees. There is literally free movement of bees globally and, as far as I know, there is very little regulation of the movement of bees, when there needs to be. We do it in other live categories and in livestock, and we know that it works in terms of disease control. The movement of bees has the potential to import the varroa mite, as has happened in Ireland. There is now the problem of the small hive beetle, which is causing havoc for bee-keepers.

So we have a huge problem, to which we do not know the answer. There are at least half a dozen reasons why these things may be happening, and research is absolutely necessary. We need to coordinate that research across the European Union so that we find answers. We also need to address the issue of beekeepers themselves, because it seems they are an ageing population, and we need more of them, not less.


  Avril Doyle (PPE-DE). - Madam President, if Mrs Lulling will stay quite long enough for me to congratulate her, I will be delighted to do so on her consistent interest and support for apiculture in the European Parliament for some time now.

The decline in bee populations and the frightening implications for plant pollination and biodiversity generally deserve our full attention and we must support research and join with scientists worldwide to try and find the causes. Parasitic infections, climate change, pesticides: we can only speculate at this stage.

Twenty five per cent of our food depends directly on bees, apart altogether from their contribution to maintaining our grasslands. Regrettably in Ireland our only research centre in this area, in Clonroche in County Wexford, was closed down by the Irish Government some years ago. Therefore, I am not sure that Ireland can contribute; we have the scientists and the knowledge, but we certainly do not have the support from the government. I look forward to hearing from the Commission how Europe and the European Union can support the research and what we are doing to date in this area.


  Astrid Lulling (PPE-DE). - Madame la Présidente, comme le président Parish a dû s'absenter, il m'a demandé de prendre position sur les amendements qui nous sont parvenus en dernière minute.

La commission de l'agriculture a adopté à l'unanimité la résolution, enrichie de tous les amendements, que j'ai tous pris en considération. Mais maintenant les Verts, qui n'ont pas brillé par leurs contributions lors de la discussion de la résolution, proposent en dernière minute, pour redorer leur blason, 4 amendements qui, non seulement, n'apportent pas un seul élément nouveau, mais en plus alourdiraient le texte qui est actuellement cohérent et lisible.

L'amendement 1 provient d'une erreur de traduction allemande, parce que ce que propose M. Graefe zu Baringdorf, c'est exactement le même texte que celui que j'ai proposé, mais comme je l'ai dit, la traduction allemande de mon considérant est déficiente.

L'amendement 2 enfonce des portes ouvertes, l'amendement 3 est inintelligible et l'amendement 4 fait double emploi avec le paragraphe 8, qui demande clairement des travaux de recherche plus intensifiés sur les effets des pesticides sur la mortalité des abeilles, et il dit encore qu'il faut faire dépendre, ce qui est déjà le cas, l'autorisation de ces produits de ces recherches.

Je propose donc de rejeter ces amendements parce qu'ils n'ajoutent rien, ils pollueraient un texte qui est clair et correctement rédigé. Je tiens à une bonne rédaction parce que cette résolution est très importante et nous voudrions qu'elle soit bien rédigée, voilà pourquoi nous voulons rejeter ces amendements.


  Zdzisław Zbigniew Podkański (UEN). - Pani Przewodnicząca! Debata w Parlamencie Europejskim na temat pszczelarstwa spotkała się dużym zainteresowaniem ze strony pszczelarzy. Jako pszczelarz, osobiście spotkałem się w Puławach z pszczelarzami, którzy przyjechali z całej Polski. Prosili mnie oni, abym zadał Komisji Europejskiej jedno pytanie i poprosił o konkretną odpowiedź na nie, a mianowicie, na co konkretnie mogą liczyć pszczelarze w najbliższych latach?


  Janez Potočnik, Member of the Commission. − Madam President, I truly believe that this was a very fruitful discussion with many ideas not only for my colleague but for the DG AGRI services, as well as for my services and others. Many of the Directorates General other than DG AGRI are working on the issue we are discussing today: DG SANCO, DG Research and DG Environment. It is really a multidisciplinary issue. When we talk about how much funding is actually committed to this, I think that we will have to look at various other areas as well.

Let me come first to many of your questions concerning what we are doing, what is in the pipeline and what we actually mean when we talk about research in the bee sector. In the Sixth Framework Programme, a specific target research project on food quality and safety priority was named ‘Bees in Europe and Sustainable Honey Production’ (BEE SHOP). This gathers together nine European honey bee research groups specialising in honey quality, pathology, genetics and behaviour. Do not be misled: FP6 projects are the ones that are already running; FP7 projects are just starting.

In addition, the specific support action ‘Bee Research and Virology in Europe’ (BRAVE) has enabled the organisation of two large multidisciplinary conferences, involving experts working in fundamental and applied research on bees – experts on virology, diagnosis, immunology and epidemiology – as well as international trade, policy formulation and disease risk assessment. A call for proposals was published on 3 September this year, on the theme of food agriculture and fisheries biotechnology, on the identification of emerging honey bee pests and diseases, and the re-emergence of pathogens, aimed at elucidating the intimate mechanisms and reasons for the increased honey bee mortality. So it is exactly linked to this topic and many of your questions.

The environmental aspects, including chronic exposure to pesticides, will also be taken into account. The integrated project ALARM, on assessing large-scale environmental risks for biodiversity, is also funded under the Sixth Framework Programme and includes a module on pollinator loss. ALARM will develop and test methods and protocols for the assessment of large-scale environmental risks in order to minimise negative direct and indirect human impacts. Research will focus on assessment and focus of changes in biodiversity structure, function, dynamism of ecosystems – in particular risk arising from climate change, environmental chemicals, biological invasions and pollinator loss in the context of current and future European land-use betterance will also be assessed. These are all current initiatives.

One thing which I would like to underline – since this was also stressed by your colleague – is that Europe is not short of expertise. I think we have to be aware of this and also be fair. At European Union level we deal with 5% – I repeat, 5% – of European Union public money which is devoted to research. So it is of the utmost important that we join forces and do as much as possible practically. The creation of the European research area, which I fully support, is actually exactly this idea – that we all know what we are doing and that we join the scientific expertise which we already have across Europe. This is certainly a missing element in Europe today.

I will ensure that the Commissioner responsible for research hears your calls for further research – that is me, but today I am in a different role. One thing which I would also like to mention – because it was perhaps not fully understand in my introduction – is the EFSA full assessment on bee mortality and bee surveillance in Europe. This was published on 11 August 2008, so it is a new thing. It is exactly the analysis of the programme which you are searching for and I think it is important that we all look at what we have before us.

I must also answer the colleague who asked about GMO crops. The only GMO crop currently cultivated in the European Union is Bt-maize MON 810. Bt-maize, and Bt-toxin in general, have been extensively analysed with regard to the possible impact on bee health. Forced feeding trials, where healthy bees are exposed to high doses of bt-toxin, have not shown any negative effect. Overall, the overwhelming majority of studies show that this bt-maize pollen diet has no impact on bees. I can add to this that the recently observed massive losses of bees, termed ‘colony collapse disorder’ (CCV), in North America and also in Europe do not appear to be related to the use of GMO crops as they are also reported from other areas where no GMO crops are grown. For example, bee losses observed in southern Germany have been clearly attributed to poisoning by the pesticide Poncho Pro. It also has a Latin name, which is so difficult that I would rather not read it out.

In conclusion, Commission actions will certainly continue and be strengthened. They will help beekeepers to face the current difficulties and encourage them to continue their activity. I also hope that will encourage new entrants to the profession since this activity plays an extremely important role, not only for our EU biodiversity, but also economically.

As regards my colleague Commissioner Fischer Boel’s direct responsibilities, she will continue to make sure that the national beekeeping programmes are used in the most efficient way. However, in the first instance, it is up to the Member States to spend their budgets in an appropriate way. Today we have EUR 26.3 million in European money each year. This is doubled by adding the money from the Member States – but we are not spending it. We are spending 80% of that money. Member States are not spending what is currently at their disposal.

Finally, the best solution to guarantee a future for the sector is to encourage consumption of EU honey. Since 2004, honey has been added to the list of eligible products for promotion on the internal market and several programmes have been accepted.

My answer was longer because I just wanted to make clear to you that we are taking these actions seriously and that you should count on us – definitely also in my area – to continue to do so. Thank you for your attention and for staying so long.


  La Présidente. - J'ai reçu, conformément à l'article 108, paragraphe 5, du règlement la proposition de résolution de la commission de l'agriculture(1).

Le débat est clos.

Le vote aura lieu jeudi 20 novembre 2008.

Déclarations écrites (article 142)


  Filip Kaczmarek (PPE-DE), na pismie. – Pszczoły są ważne dla różnych kultur i w różnych miejscach świata. Ich uniwersalizm nie jest przypadkowy. Pszczelarstwo było ważnym elementem gospodarki od czasów przedhistorycznych, czyli czasów poprzedzających powstanie historii pisanej. W Hiszpanii miód zbierano 6000 lat temu.

Dziś wysiłek pszczół i pszczelarzy może zostać zmarnowany przez zjawiska uderzające w środowisko naturalne, a pośrednio również w człowieka. Nadal mamy w Europie ludzi żyjących z pracy swojej i pszczół. Ludzie ci sprzedają miód, który sami wyprodukowali. Powinniśmy się z tego cieszyć. Podejmowane są również próby powrotu do tradycyjnego bartnictwa leśnego. W Polsce próby te są wspierane przez bartników, którzy przyjechali z Baszkirii, bo w kraju nie było nikogo, kto by pamiętał starodawne techniki. Pszczelarstwo ma znaczenie kulturowe, społeczne i ekonomiczne. Dlatego właśnie powinniśmy chronić europejskie pszczelarstwo. A niestety jest przed czym chronić tę specyficzną działalność:

przed zagrożeniami ekonomicznymi, jak na przykład nieuczciwą konkurencją z krajów trzecich, przed zagrożeniami sanitarnymi i biologicznymi, jak choroby, pasożyty, zanieczyszczenie środowiska czy nieprzemyślane stosowanie środków ochrony roślin. Komisja Europejska i państwa członkowskie powinny wspierać sektor pszczelarski, stojący przed tymi poważnymi zagrożeniami. Samym pszczelarzom może być bardzo trudno uratować bioróżnorodność, której bogactwo współtworzą pszczoły.


(1)Voir procès-verbal.

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